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Leveraging Your USAC Experience

Are you thinking about an international career or would you like to work domestically? Even if your future career isn't explicitly international in theme or scope, you have a brand new skill set that is applicable to any future professional situation.

  • Employment - 97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, whereas only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period.
  • Salary - The starting salaries for graduates who studied abroad are 25% higher than college graduates who do not study abroad.
  • Graduate School - 90% of study abroad alumni reported that were admitted into their 1st or 2nd choice graduate school.
  • Value - 59% of employers said study abroad would be valuable in an individual's career later on with their organization.

Source: What Statistics Show about Study Abroad Students

It's all about the skills

Today employers and admissions committees are looking for people who can listen to and understand other points of view. More than ever they want to see applicants who can think globally, jump into new situations with initiative and a willingness to learn, problem-solve, and think on their feet. They are also seeking people with good communication, conflict-resolution, and relationship-building skills.

These skills are as marketable as the foreign language proficiency. However, research shows that if you want employers to place a higher value on your study abroad experience you must clearly articulate your international experiences and show that you developed applicable transferable skills while abroad. Just mentioning that you studied abroad is not enough. You must effectively sell your skills and experiences by showing how they will help you benefit a program or organization. 

Important Transferable Skills Identified by Employers

  • Ability to work independently
  • Adapting to situations of change
  • Allocating time effectively
  • Applying information to new or broader contexts
  • Assessing impacts of decisions
  • Communicating ideas in a manner that gains acceptance/agreement
  • Conceptualizing a future for oneself/organization
  • Conveying ideas verbally
  • Identifying new problems/alternative solutions
  • Identifying creative possibilities/solutions
  • Interacting with people who hold different interests,values, or perspectives
  • Understanding cultural differences in the workplace

Put Your Experience to Work For You

Before You Leave:

  • Meet with your Academic Advisor or campus Career Center and identify the skills necessary for the career you plan to pursue after graduation.
  • Ask your USAC Program Advisor if internship or volunteer opportunities are available on your program.
  • Identify the skills you want to develop (like language proficiency, adaptability, flexibility, maturity, and cultural sensitivity).

While Abroad:

  • Find ways to develop the skills you identified before you left
    • Intern or volunteer
    • Join student clubs or organizations
    • Take language classes and practice speaking with locals
  • Keep track of what you are doing. When, where, and how are you handling difficult situtations or developing critical thinking skills?

After Returning:

  • Reflect on your experience abroad. Did you:
    • Complete a project or conduct research that is applicable to your field of interest?
    • Travel independently?
    • Learn to work with a diverse group of people?
    • Resolve a conflict based on misunderstandings of cultural differences?
    • Learn new activities, languages, hobbies, or skills?
    • Come to understand how to listen, watch, and learn from what you observe?
    • Discover something new about yourself that can relate to the position you are seeking?
    • Volunteer or participate in an internship or service learning project while abroad?
  • Meet with your Career Center and update your resume
  • Update your LinkedIn profile
  • Seek out networkng opportunities
  • Attend a USAC professional development webinar
  • Continue developing your new skills. For example, continue practicing the language you learned while abroad.